Beggs now leads race for city council president by over 300 votes

New numbers show Breean Beggs is still in the lead for Spokane’s city council president — now by 316 votes.

Beggs now sits at 31,851 votes in comparison to his opponent Cindy Wendle’s 31,535. That works out to less than a half of a percent difference between the two.

Beggs took his first — very slim — lead in the race on Tuesday, coming in just seven votes ahead of Wendle.

“I thought it would be a much bigger margin, and quite frankly, I thought I would be ahead by a bigger margin,” Beggs said Wednesday. “It’s just, you know, anxiety-producing, but really, I’m focused on doing the work that I’m doing every day for the city. I’m gonna be on the council regardless, so I’m working on the budget right now, is what I’m trying to do.”

After 4 News Now reached out to Wendle for an interview Wednesday, her campaign released a statement on how she’s feeling in the midst of one of the county’s tightest races.

“Last week’s election saw many competitive races across our community, including mine. As the votes continue to be counted, I’m optimistic that the final tally will be in my favor,” Wendle said ahead of the latest round of results. “One thing is clear: the voters care about and are engaged in this election and are excited for fresh leadership at City Council. I’m honored by the support I’ve received from so many.”

About 2,500 ballots were accounted for in Wednesday’s release, meaning there are still 5,600 votes that need to be counted. Returns show about 3,000 people did not vote for either candidate, while there were 253 write-in votes. Those votes combined to make up just under 5 percent of the ballots cast.

Last week, Wendle led Beggs by as many as 851 votes, but Beggs clawed his way back, cutting the deficit to 145 votes Friday.

If the election were certified with these results, a machine recount would be triggered, since fewer than 2,000 votes and less than a half of a percent separate the two candidates. There would be an automatic manual recount if the margin is cut to less than 150 votes and less than a quarter of a percent, but that won’t be decided for another two weeks, when the election is certified Nov. 26. Either candidate can also request a recount.

It’s nothing Spokane County auditor Vicky Dalton hasn’t seen before.

“Spokane really is the queen of recounts. So, only King County does more recounts than Spokane County does,” she said. “Spokane is considered a swing county. We don’t lean heavily Republican or heavily Democrat as an entire county… In a lot of races, we’re still swing. So, it can go either way.”

Dalton expects this week’s returns to be much smaller than the week of the election.

“It just takes us time to process ballots — especially those that have to be remade because somebody changed their mind,” she said. “Our machines can’t tabulate that. So, we have to take the marks for the entire ballot, move those marks to a fresh, clean ballot. And that takes a lot of time and a lot of man power.”

Spokane County elections manager Mike McLaughlin tells 4 News Now he and Dalton’s team is ready for whatever comes their way.

“I mean, part of our process from the beginning is — when the ballots go out, we count on, we process for a recount,” McLaughlin says. “So, everything happens and, you know, we’re ready for one if one is determined to be needed.”

Should a recount take place, McLaughlin says we may not know the outcome of this race for another month. He estimates the office wouldn’t have official results until the middle of December.

READ: Spokane City Council Pres. race could be headed for recount